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An unforgettable winter in the French Alps

Felicia Tan
Felicia Tan • 9 min read
An unforgettable winter in the French Alps
If you are looking for the ultimate mountain experience, the all-inclusive Club Med checks all the right boxes. All photos: Club Med
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If you are looking for the ultimate mountain experience, the all-inclusive Club Med checks all the right boxes

In the middle of the French Alps, I made my first attempt at skiing, albeit on beginner slopes. Sliding down the slopes felt liberating for someone who has never been good on her feet. That might have been to the credit of the ski instructors at Club Med Tignes.

As I clicked my boots onto my skis and skied down my first run, it turned out my worries were unfounded and the experience fun. I was lucky to have taken my first steps, so to speak, in a place with everything prepared for us.

The ultimate alpine experience

Perched at 2,100m above sea level, Club Med Tignes is Club Med’s newest ski resort in the French, Italian and Swiss Alps. The resort is located in Val Claret, which is said to be the liveliest village out of the five villages in Tignes, France. To get there, we flew from Singapore to Geneva in Switzerland, stopping in Munich, Germany. From Geneva, the resort is a three-hour drive away. Club Med has a counter at Geneva Airport, where you can make transfer arrangements to the resort.

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How a superior room at Club Med Tignes looks like. Here, rooms are cosy and modern, decorated with natural wood, stone and jewel hues

Tignes comprises five villages in the French Alps near the Italian border. Together with the neighbouring Val d’Isere, Tignes is part of the Espace Killy ski area and is known for having the highest skiable area and the most extended ski season in Europe due to its altitude.

Club Med is known for its premium all-inclusive holidays. Packages at Club Med’s resorts include meals, entertainment, and activities. Club Med’s ski resorts are no different. Apart from accommodation, the resort also provides ski lift passes and skiing and snowboard lessons with national school instructors. Those taking ski and snowboard lessons get to rent their equipment at the Club Med Ski Pro Shop. Guests can also utilise Club Med’s “Facilitate Your Arrival” service, where they get to rent their equipment beforehand and find them ready and waiting in a locker.

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A rendering of Le Val Claret’s terrace in the summer. Club Med Tignes opens in both the winter and the summer seasons

Advanced skiers will also appreciate Club Med Tignes’s direct access to the slopes. Near the entrance are ski lifts that take skiers up the more advanced slopes. Beginners will have to walk to the local bus stop nearby and take a bus to the gentler slopes.

But that is not all. Winter sports enthusiasts will appreciate the rest of the activities, such as paragliding, bungee jumping on skis, ice diving, glacier walks, sledging and much more.

There are also excursions close to the summit of the Grand Motte glacier at 3,456m above sea level at its highest point. Swathes of white peaks, including the famed Mont Blanc, will greet you. The Grande Motte is one of the mountains within the Massif de la Vanoise range, with an elevation of 3,653m above sea level.

If the great outdoors is not for you, there are plenty of other things to do within the resort. There is a heated indoor pool, a gym for fitness enthusiasts, and spinning and yoga classes. Prefer something more relaxing? The Club Med Spa by Sothys offers treatments designed for rest and recovery. Within the spa area are also hammams and saunas available.

Rooms at Club Med Tignes are cosy and modern, with natural wood, stone and jewel hues setting the scene amid the alpine landscape. At mealtimes, guests can choose between the resort’s two restaurants. The main restaurant Le Val Claret is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner and offers a wide spread of cuisines and dishes ranging from international favourites to local specialities. The resort’s speciality restaurant Le Solstice Gourmet Lounge, is by reservation only and is open for lunch, tea and dinner. The restaurant also offers a wine cellar with incredible vintages and regional selections.

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The Equinoxe bar is where guests meet and socialise with other guests at the resort. That is also where the legendary Club Med parties are held. Families with young children will appreciate the resort’s kids’ club, where children are occupied with their ski and snowboard lessons and music and art sessions. Ski lessons are available to children aged four and above, while snowboard lessons are available to children aged eight and above.

Sited at a lower altitude of 1,860m above sea level, Club Med Alpe d’Huez, located within the Grandes Rousses mountains, boasts stunning views of the surrounding mountain range dotted with pine trees

The resort’s boutique is also worth looking at, especially if you cannot find any suitable ski clothes in time for your trip. There are a variety of well-designed ski clothes from premium brands and accessories like beanies, bags and reusable water bottles on offer. I should know — I had to purchase a pair of waterproof ski pants for my lessons, and the fit was fabulous.

Winter wonderland

After three nights at Club Med Tignes, we were taken to another Club Med resort in the French Alps — Club Med Alpe d’Huez. Sited at a lower altitude of 1,860m above sea level, Club Med Alpe d’Huez, located within the Grandes Rousses mountains, boasts stunning views of the surrounding mountain range dotted with pine trees. The resort has 441 rooms, slightly more than the 430 rooms offered at Tignes.

Club Med Alpe d’Huez offers a heated indoor pool and spa treatments at the Club Med Spa by PAYOT

Our experience at Club Med Alpe d’Huez was similar to that of Club Med Tignes and equally fun. Here, the activities are similar to that of Club Med Tignes. Like Club Med Tignes, ski lift passes and daily group ski and snowboard lessons are already provided. The equipment can also be easily rented at the Club Med Ski Pro Shop.

Outside the resort, Club Med Alpe d’Huez opens up to France’s second-largest ski area, the L’Alpe d’Huez Grand Domaine. Again, the resort’s ski-in, ski-out area for more advanced skiers is a huge plus. Like Tignes, beginners must make a short trek to the gentler slopes.

Group ski and snowboard lessons at Club Med’s resorts in Tignes and Alpe d’Huez are done with the same instructors and group. This means guests get to progress to more advanced slopes together.

Dine at Le Pic Blanc at Club Med Alpe d’Huez, which serves a variety of international dishes while overlooking an immaculate alpine view

After each ski lesson, the resort serves drinks and light snacks outdoors, allowing guests to take in the immaculate alpine view. At meal times, there is the resort’s main restaurant, Le Pic Blanc, which serves a variety of international dishes, and the resort’s Gourmet Lounge, Les Alpages, which offers Alpine delicacies and a selection of wines.

There is also a main open bar, Le Neve, for guests to meet, recharge and relax. Apart from ski and snowboard lessons, guests can try various activities such as snowshoeing, hiking, Nordic walking, dog sledging, ice skating and paragliding.

At this resort, I also had my first taste of paragliding. You are first taken up to one of the mountain peaks, ski off (with an instructor riding tandem), and enjoy the view. To call the experience “unforgettable” is probably an understatement.

Le Neve at Club Med Alpe d’Huez is an open bar and lounge for guests to meet, recharge and relax

If you want something warmer, there are the resort’s indoor pool and spa treatments at the Club Med Spa by PAYOT. There is also La Bulle, the adult-only wellness lounge with all the ingredients for a genuinely soothing session — think comfortable seating areas, calm tunes, essential oils, and yoga and meditation classes.

“At a worldwide level, we have seen a 16% increase in snow vacations for the coming winter season and a 20% increase in February compared to the same time in 2022,” says Rachael Harding, CEO of ESAP (East South Asia Pacific) at Club Med.

“Just for the Asia Pacific travellers, our ski resort demands have already exceeded pre-pandemic numbers by 26% versus 2019, and up to 85% of our guests are heading for their Club Med snow vacations during the school holidays and festive periods in December and January,” she adds. “In 2022 alone, 54% of our guests from Asia Pacific are visiting a Club Med resort for the first time, and some of our popular Club Med resorts in the French Alps are Arcs Panorama, Grand Massif Samoëns Morillon, Val Thorens Sensations and Alpe d’Huez.”

One of the rooms at Club Med Alpe d’Huez’s Kids Club, which offers an extensive programme for children aged between four months and 17 years

A trip of firsts

This trip had many firsts — from the sight of the Alps on the plane to skiing lessons and paragliding — and we all know that our firsts are the most remembered. What made it even more memorable was that it completely changed my view of wintry holidays, especially since I prefer warmer climates and beach holidays.

Yet, there was something about the fresh, snowy alpine air that I enjoyed, along with witnessing the first snowfall, which left a thick white blanket of glistening snow on the ground. One of the memories I will never forget is dancing within the resort, catching a glimpse of the heavy snowfall out into the night, and leaving footprints in the deep snow the following day. Everything never looked and felt more alive then.

To book your holiday at Club Med, visit https://www.clubmed.com.sg/.

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